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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Winter 1998

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Conference Reports

STS Heads of Science & Technology Libraries Discussion Group: Notes from ALA MidWinter Meeting, January 11, 1998

Nan Butkovich
Physical Sciences Library
Pennsylvania State University
njb2@psu.edu or njb@psulias.psu.edu

Licensing of Electronic Publications

The Heads of Science & Technology Libraries Discussion Group had a very lively time in New Orleans. After a six course Louisiana dinner at Tujaques in the French Quarter and a brisk walk back to the Hilton for the meeting, we discussed licensing of electronic publications. Forty people attended, and we had presentations by Susan Barclay, Project Manager for the American Chemical Society's Electronic Projects, and Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian at Yale, followed by a very spirited discussion.

Barclay stated that ACS is committed to listening to its customers, and that they haven't had any complaints about the products themselves. She announced a new journal pricing plan, Option B, which was developed as a result of complaints that earlier pricing plans were prohibitively expensive. Information may be found on the web at {http://pubs.acs.org/journals/prices98/planb_explain.html}

ACS believes that its e-journal licenses have a wide degree of flexibility, such as the ability to choose titles, rather than having to purchase a package; articles available as soon as publishable, which can be as much as 2-11 weeks before they appear in print; and that both Class C subnet and site licenses are available. Barclay also discussed new challenges, such as how to handle proxy servers; concurrent users; design issues; sales of individual articles; cookies; consortia; archiving; and aggregators.

Okerson observed that licenses are only partly concerned with copyright and that they have more to do with rules of use and relationships between users and producers. Licenses may have provisions negating copyright. The burgeoning numbers of licenses cause many problems: scalability; the need to define users and uses; clarification of the roles of consortia, subscription agents and aggregators; archiving and the need for perpetual access; and pricing models.

Licenses are labor-intensive, so scalability is a problem. How do we handle the surge of licenses produced as more and more products become electronic? Do subscription agents really negotiate the best deal, or can we do better on our own? Consortia can solve some problems, but some institutions jump from one consortium to another in order to get the best deal. With aggregators what will we do with package items that we don't want?

Some observations from the general discussion:

The meeting ended with suggestions for future meetings:

Two additional suggestions have been made since the meeting:

Anyone having any comments on these ideas or other suggestions, please contact Nan Butkovich (njb2@psu.edu or njb@psulias.psu.edu), Julia Gelfand (jgelfand@uci.edu), or Bart Lessin (aa3327@wayne.edu).

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